by Jim Morrison
–roseate metallic blue
& insect green
blank mirrors &
pools of silver
a universe in
“The Desert” appears in THE AMERICAN NIGHT: The Writings of Jim Morrison, Volume 2 (Vintage, 1991)
Photo: Jim Morrison in the desert, late 1960s.
“We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts that remain.” KEITH RICHARDS
PHOTO: Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards reads by the fire at his Weston, Connecticut, home in September 1977. Known as one of the most iconic rock musicians, Richards is an avid reader who owns an extensive library. Photo by Ken Regan, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
We wrote a previous post about Keith Richards‘ home library, love of books and reading, and one-time desire to become a librarian. In the above photo from September 1977, Richards is reading a magazine with a three-column format that I’d guess is a copy of the NEW YORKER.
Illustration: Cover of New Yorker magazine, September 19, 1977.
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
Photo: Elvis Presley reading ARCHIE comic book on train (July 4, 1956) by Alfred Wertheimer, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Elvis Presley started his phenomenal career in 1954, and two years later had his first number-one hit, “Heartbreak Hotel.” RCA released the record in January 1956, but a few months later, it appears, Elvis was still able to travel by train without getting mobbed. In the photo above, the soon-to-be-icon relaxes with his favorite reading material, an ARCHIE comic.
I am in no way criticizing Elvis’s taste in reading material — in my younger years, I, too, read ARCHIE comics during my annual train journey from Chicago to St. Louis to visit relatives. (For the record, I identified with Betty, not Veronica.) And I will agree with the Maya Angelou quote at the top of the post — reading comics did help me form a habit of reading.
But there’s a whole other subcategory here — reading material suitable for trains, buses, and planes. Of course, with all the distractions and interruptions during public journeying, you want to read something easy to follow — so why not an ARCHIE comic, even for someone Elvis’s age (he was 21 when the top photo was shot)?
Illustration: Cover of ARCHIE comic. May-June 1956 issue.
The Rolling Stones kick off their “50 & Counting…” tour tonight (May 3, 2013) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. After gigs in Anaheim and Northern California, they’ll be back on May 20. There’s been a lot of buzz and excitement in L.A. over the Stones’ tour — especially after they played a last-minute gig on April 27 at a small venue in Echo Park.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both turn 70 this year, Charlie Watts turns 72 in June, and youngster Ronnie Wood is 65. These rockers continue to inspire with their creativity, passion, and stamina.
As writers, Jagger and Richards are geniuses — how else to explain their endless stream of remarkable compositions?
Richards talks about songwriting in his autobiography LIFE (Little, Brown, 2010). Here’s a quote:
What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people’s hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you’re playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.”
I was lucky enough to attend Stones’ concerts in Chicago a couple of times, but for the “50 & Counting…” appearances at the Staples Center the “cheapest” seat price, with limited availability, is $85. No matter. I won’t complain about the prices — because the Stones are worth every penny. If you can afford it (and even if you can’t) — go! This is a once in a lifetime chance to see the greatest band in the world on what may be its final tour.
For ticket information and tour dates, visit ticketnetwork.com.
A few days ago, I said, “I’m gonna pop some tags” (to quote “Thrift Shop,” a humorous/profane song by blond rapper Macklemore — a tune with over 250 million views on youtube), so I went to my local Goodwill store and for $2.99 snagged a pristine copy of POEMS OF NEW YORK (Everyman’s Library, 2002), a collection of 125 poems about Gotham’s many facets.
Here’s a poem from the anthology — part of the Everyman Library’s Pocket Poet Series — a beautiful hardcover book, with gorgeous photos on the dust jacket, and a threaded gold bookmark.
SUBWAY RUSH HOUR
by Langston Hughes
breath and smell
black and white
no room for fear.
So pay a visit to your local thrift shop this week — most of these operations benefit worthy causes — and pop some tags. You never know what you’ll find.
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
(Excerpt — listen to Judy Garland and Fred Astaire perform “Easter Parade” from the 1948 movie at youtube.com)
In your Easter bonnet
with all the frills upon it,
you’ll be the grandest lady
in the Easter Parade…
Oh, I could write a sonnet
about your Easter bonnet
and of the girl I’m taking
to the Easter Parade.
Note: Fred idolized Judy (“She was simply wonderful…”) and Judy adored Fred — and you can see their mutual devotion in every scene of this classic musical.
Happy Easter to all!
“When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.” KEITH RICHARDS
Many of you have heard the story of how Keith Richards was injured a few years ago when he reached for a book about Leonardo da Vinci in his home library and the bookcase fell on him. What many people don’t know is that Richards is a bibliophile and his first career choice was to become a librarian — according to his his memoir Life (2011), available at Amazon.com.
Full Disclosure: I am a dedicated Rolling Stones fan…
Photo: Keith Richards relaxing in his home library (they’re his books, so it’s his business if he smokes).
Poem by Stanley Plumly
I heard him that one night in Cincinnati.
The concert hall, 1960, the same day
Kennedy flew into town in perfect sunlight
and rode the route that took him
through the crowds of voters and nonvoters
who alike seemed to want to climb
into the armored convertible.
Gould did not so much play as address
the piano from a height of inches,
as if he were trying to slow the music
by holding each note separately.
Later he would say he was tired
of making public appearances,
the repetition of performing the Variations
was killing him. But that night
Bach felt like a discovery, whose repetitions
Gould had practiced in such privacy
as to bring them into being for the first time.
This was the fall, October, when Ohio,
like almost every other part of the country,
is beginning to be mortally beautiful,
the great old hardwoods letting go
their various scarlet, yellow,
and leopard-spotted leaves one by one.
“Glenn Gould” by Stanley Plumly, from Orphan Hours. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2012.
Listen to Glenn Gould (1932-1982) play J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations“ here.
“I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you would find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.” SOCRATES
Photo: Alice PopKorn
Speaking of sublime messages…when I turned on the radio this morning, I heard Vladimir Horowitz playing Chopin. Listen to the master(s) here.
Yesterday, the Silver Birch Press blog included a post with praise for J.S. Bach from notables past and present. Thought we’d start our day with some more quotes about this musical master.
“Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?” MICHAEL TORKE, American composer (b. 1961)
“Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance…poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music…Bach and Mozart are never too far from physical movement.” EZRA POUND, American expatriate poet and critic (1885-1972)
“[Bach was] the immortal god of harmony.” LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, German composer and musician (1770-1827)
“I think that if I were required to spend the rest of my life on a desert island, and to listen to or play the music of any one composer during all that time, that composer would almost certainly be Bach. I really can’t think of any other music which is so all-encompassing, which moves me so deeply and so consistently, and which, to use a rather imprecise word, is valuable beyond all of its skill and brilliance for something more meaningful than that — its humanity.” GLENN GOULD, Canadian pianist (1932-1982)
Listen to the wondrous Glenn Gould play Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 at youtube.com.
Illustration: J.S. Bach’s monogram, as found on a postcard from the good folks at zazzle.com.